There are a lot of reasons to love succulents. They are low-maintenance, come in some amazing colors and shapes and size, and can be planted just about anywhere—including in vertical wall garden! If you haven't worked with concrete before, don't fret. It's an easy material to use and very forgiving. In this step-by-step tutorial, you'll learn how to make your own concrete mold using some basic materials. And once you have the process down, you can make concrete planters in any shape you like simply by changing up the base shape.
When choosing plants for your wall hanging, look for types of succulents that will stay relatively small and tight to best fill the heart shape. We used various types of Echeveria, Dischidia and Haworthia cooperi along with other succulents found at our local garden center to create a multi-textured and colorful arrangement.
The trick to creating this stunning display is to prep your succulents at least a day before you start this project—the succulent cuttings need to develop scabs where the stems are cut. To prepare, simply remove succulent plants from their pots and wipe away any excess dirt. Clip the ends of the succulents, leaving a stem to insert into the floral foam that will fill your form.
To make the heart form, fold a sheet of poster board in half and draw half a heart on the seam (just like you did back in elementary school to get a balanced heart shape). Cut once you're happy with the size and shape. Then measure 1-1/2 inches the outside of that heart and draw a second one. Cut out. Trace both heart patterns onto foam core board and cut with crafts knife. Glue hearts together, centering the little heart over the bigger one.
Cut a cardboard strip long enough to wrap around the outside of your foam core heart. Cut a second piece to wrap around the inner layer of the heart shape. Secure both to the outside edges of the hearts low-temp hot glue to create the mold shape.
Use a screwdriver to poke holes through inner heart foam board. Lay a piece of chicken wire big enough to cover the heart shape on top of the mold and run floral wire through the holes you poked in the back to keep the chicken wire in place. Trim the chicken wire to just bigger than the size of the inner heart and curve the edges down so they are in between the two cardboard strip walls of your mold. This way the chicken wire will be buried in the concrete once you pour. Once you're finished with the wire, spray the space between the cardboard strips with spray oil to make removing the cardboard after the concrete has dried much easier.
Now it's time to mix your concrete! Don a dust mask and goggles before starting; even the slightest breeze could blow concrete dust into your eyes and you don't want to be breathing in the stuff either. Basic rubber kitchen gloves will protect your hands from the messy mixing process. Pour the fast-drying concrete mix into a plastic bucket or bin and slowly add water, mixing with your hands until a cottage cheese consistency has formed. We prepped about six cups of concrete mix for this project; more than we needed but better too much than too little! It's actually a great excuse to prep a couple molds of different sizes. If you have too much concrete, just fill another mold!
Fill outer heart shape with concrete mix, pressing it into the edges of the shape and gently shaking or tapping the mold to remove any air bubbles. Fill the form all the way to the top with concrete, being sure to completely cover the chicken wire edges you tucked into the mold. Insert plastic anchors on opposite sides of the heart. The anchors will allow you to easily hang the piece later. Let the concrete dry for at least 24 hours.
After concrete is completely dry, tap the form gently with a rubber mallet and peel away cardboard strips. Use a bit of sandpaper if needed to remove and cardboard remnants or smooth and jagged edges. Add blocks of dampened floral form to fill the center of the heart and cover with damp sphagnum moss, securing the moss with floral pins as needed. Use a screwdriver to make holes in the floral foam where you want to insert the succulents; it will make it much easier to insert the stems without damaging your plants. Finish filling out the heart with various succulent cuttings, being sure to leave room for plant growth.
Wait about a week before hanging your piece to give the plants time to anchor into their new home. Once you're ready to hang, connect a length of chain to eye screws; secure each eye screw in the plastic anchors you inserted into the concrete during the molding process.
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